Results will begin to display after polls close Tuesday, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m.
CHICAGO - After months of primaries and campaign events, the midterm elections that will determine the balance of power in Washington and state capitals are finally here.
They also sense something more fundamental at stake at a time of rising mistrust of institutions and each other: the future of democracy.
These midterm elections are the first since the Supreme Court took away a woman's constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy, leaving the matter to states.
Midterms are always important because a switch in control of the House or Senate can stunt the plans of a sitting president.
Republicans are predicting a massive red wave as anxious Democrats defend their narrow majorities in Congress while struggling to overcome pervasive concerns about the economy, crime and President Joe Biden’s leadership. Democrats are hoping that a backlash against the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade will save them.
Because of close contests and extended vote counting, it could take days or weeks before the final outcome is known in several key races.
What to expect on election night
Polls close at 7 p.m. local time.
HOW ILLINOIS VOTES
Illinois voters are increasingly casting their ballots before Election Day, either by mail or in person at voting centers. During the pandemic in 2020, two-thirds of Illinois voters voted either by mail or early, but a third of voters already had made the switch away from in-person election-day voting in the two previous elections.
While most Illinois counties are strongly Republican, election results are dominated by overwhelmingly Democratic Chicago, the strongly Democratic Cook County suburbs and the more middle-of-the-road "collar counties" surrounding Chicago. More than a quarter of the electorate lives in Chicago and Cook County alone, making those the counties to watch in statewide races.
AP will tabulate votes in 150 races, including one for U.S. Senate, 17 for U.S. House, as well as governor, four other statewide offices and a statewide ballot measure. In the 2020 presidential election, the first votes were reported at 8:09 p.m. local time and the state reached 90% of the vote counted in the evening of the day after election day.
AP does not make projections or name apparent or likely winners. Only when AP is fully confident a race has been won – defined most simply as the moment a trailing candidate no longer has a path to victory – will we make a call. Should a candidate declare victory – or offer a concession – before AP calls a race, we will cover newsworthy developments in our reporting. In doing so, we will make clear that AP has not yet declared a winner and explain the reason why we believe the race is too early or too close to call. The AP may call a statewide or U.S. House race in which the margin between the top two candidates is 0.5% or less, if we determine the lead is too large for a recount to change the outcome.
The AP will not call down-ballot races on election night if the margin between the top two candidates is less than 2%. AP will revisit those races later in the week to confirm there aren’t enough outstanding votes left to count that could change the outcome.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD I KNOW?
Q: WHAT’S CHANGED SINCE THE PANDEMIC ELECTION OF 2020?
A: Illinois has taken one more step to make it easier to vote by mail, giving voters the option to automatically receive a mail ballot in future elections.
Q: WHAT DO TURNOUT AND ADVANCE VOTE LOOK LIKE?
A: More than 6 million Illinoisans voted in the 2020 presidential election, and 4.6 million turned out for the governor’s election in 2018. Turnout is typically lower in non-presidential years such as this year.
Q: HOW LONG DOES COUNTING USUALLY TAKE?
A: While Illinois historically has counted most of its ballots on election night, the boom in mail and early voting meant more than 13% of Illinois votes were counted after election day in 2020. This means winners may not be known in close races until the days after the election.
Q: WHAT HAPPENS AFTER TUESDAY?
A: Illinois does not have an automatic or mandatory recount law. Candidates may seek – and pay for – a recount if the losing candidate received 95% of the vote of the winner. Recount results are for discovery purposes – to be used in a potential legal action.
The Associated Press and the FOX 32 Digital Staff contributed to this report.